- Feb 12, 2018
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What are some RPG cliches you are really tired of?
Cliches are when they are done badly
To expand on my own thoughts;
- The worst cliches are the ones that are actively harmful by being continually repeated, which probably all fall under relationship cliches; Drop everything for love, you don't need dreams. You can 'fix' them, you don't need to look for someone who doesn't need to be 'fixed'. Attractiveness outweighs abusive behavior. You should keep your family in your life no matter what they do because family is
inescapableforever. 'Boring' cliches will never be as bad as ones that actively make real people's lives worse by continually being fed to people as some weird, uncontrollable form of propaganda.
- The worst tropes I can think of are anything that is 'realism', especially at the cost of being interesting or enjoyable; Why have a world worth exploring when you could instead be throttled by realism? Why have characters be worth being around when instead you could have jaded, nihilistic 'realistic' characters? Who wants hope? These aren't just boring, they seem to actively try to be boring, or worse they want people to think reality can only even be terrible with no chance of change.
Note that there are certain types of tropes that are boring in specifically a way that will make me not want to play a game (instead of merely being a flaw); If the world is largely terrible people, then why do I want to save it? Fantasy racism, widespread religion, every single person being an ******* to everyone else including those they 'care' about. If I'm supposedly the hero and the conflict I'm going to solve to save the world isn't the conflict that's so widespread it's constantly shoved in my face, then I'm not the hero.
In The 7th Saga, the very very first enemies are "random hobo" and "regular seagull". And the latter will kill you because this game hates the player. Or more charitably, its the game telling you that you should buy equipment and that you will be grinding.It does seem a bit random when bees and rabbits are all, “Yeah…that guy? Screw that guy.” It’s one thing if the bee is literally like, a giga bee. But sometimes it’s just a legit bee.
Okay, so this isn't a trope I'm tired of, but a slime doesn't make sense as an easy to kill monster. Same for anything made of liquid, regular weapons just wouldn't do much against them. Final Fantasy might be the one series I know of that doesn't follow this, making things like Flans have extreme resistance to regular attacks and require not just magic but often one specific element to kill them.Why are starter monsters always cute or the same four templates every time? (Slime, goblin, bat, rat)
Now I love the idea of wee overconfident dragons who fight everything they come across because most humans aren't strong enough to fight back but the heroes remembered to have armor, weapons, and training. Then late game you're fighting 'regular' twenty meter long wolves in the land of the giants.Ah yes, put dragons as your first encounter in your RPG then wolves and bats as the end-game encounters.
Well, by definition of a 'cliche' versus a 'trope', all of them
I really want to make that first one clear so I'm going to repeat it; The worst cliches are the ones that are actively harmful by being continually repeated. If the cliche being treated as a truth of the world would make someone's life worse, then that is a problem beyond 'bad writing'. No amount of bad or boring writing will ever outweigh people's lives being ruined.
Okay, so this isn't a trope I'm tired of, but a slime doesn't make sense as an easy to kill monster. Same for anything made of liquid, regular weapons just wouldn't do much against them. Final Fantasy might be the one series I know of that doesn't follow this, making things like Flans have extreme resistance to regular attacks and require not just magic but often one specific element to kill them.
Now I love the idea of wee overconfident dragons who fight everything they come across because most humans aren't strong enough to fight back but the heroes remembered to have armor, weapons, and training. Then late game you're fighting 'regular' twenty meter long wolves in the land of the giants.
Or maybe the protagonists are just regular kids with wild imaginations and regular wolves are frightening compared to the "dragons" (dragonflies) they are used to fighting.
To start with, it isn't the "cliche" that's the problem. It's the "overused low-effort" usage of the cliches that is the problem.
1. Unjustified angst. Why does every angsty teen have to be Sousuke from Naruto? Dude is literally a terrible person who should've been killed off as the first villain for having a very poor outlook on life, very bad life goals, and the inability to empathize with anyone. He's a literal psychopath/sociopath and not only did he survive to the end of the series, but he's now been emulated by every other low-effort writer on the planet who wants make an "Edgelord" character or a "dark and brooding guy". Dark and brooding is cool. Batman is cool. Sousuke is a crap character who should be a villain, but was hauled across the finish line by "hero" characters with IQ's that don't even chart double digits.
If you can't make your "Edgelord" compelling to a 35 year old beyond "sex appeal" (I know some people out there that just like the Edge Lords at 35 'cause they're so in love with dating the "bad boy" and ruining their lives... but this shouldn't be a writing goal to appeal to THAT audience... unless you're writing smut), then don't write one.
2. The "dainty pure of heart woman healer". Thanks for acknowlding that this type of person would be absolutely useless in any and every way possible... except they can heal people! Man, if they couldn't heal people, they'd just be worthless and usless to everything!
Is there seriously nobody willing to challenge this trope, or do anything interesting with it? The last time I saw anything "interesting" done with it was FFX where it's revealed that Yuna is only the "dainty and pure of heart woman healer" because she has resigned herself to die in order to save the world, and she wants to be as kind and accomodating to everyone as she can possibly be so that her last moments in the world are filled with joy and smiles. We learn that the Yuna we've been interacting with the entire time is just her "facade". It's the brave face she puts on for "the good of the world", rather than "what she actually wants".
Seriously, why can't we do anything with this trope like that? Or, I dunno... make the Healer a big burly muslce-head who is basically just a "personal trainer" or "gym rat" or something, and he got into living healthy because it's hard to watch people accept his healing, but die early anyway from things like heart attacks or whatever. Give him an existential crisis of "Yes, you can heal people, but those people are going to die in a few years anyway from living unhealthy lifestyles or being in dangerous lines of work". That could be fun and interesting.
Do something with this trope! I'm not looking for waifu! You can write compelling waifu without making them avatars of purity and lightness and also useless!
3. "This is not even my final form!". Look guys... the only reason to really engage in this... is that you want to "surprise" the player. It's so overdone that it's no longer a "surprised". Honestly, I'd be more surprised if a boss went, "This isn't even my final form!" and actually was legitimately permanently defeated without ever adopting another form.
I don't know how you'd innovate this trope off the top of my head, but there's probably a way to do it.
While we're at it, I'm adding "...but can you withstand my ultimate attack?!". Look guys, this is basically the "it's not even my final form!" version of a boss... without actually creating a new form. Why isn't your boss using all their most powerful stuff at the beginning of the fight?
I get that we like going, "well, you have to do escalation in storytelling". Yes and no. They're legit trying to kill you, why aren't they blowing every attack possible at the beginning to defeat you, rather than letting you land dozens of hits on them?
This is probably why I like "overpowered heroes" so much as a trope in anime. If a hero can wipe out the threat in a single wave of his hand... I'm more impressed that he does that, rather than beating around the bush for 900 freakin' episodes. I'm also very impressed when villains do it too. If a villain can casually wipe cities off the map, I'd like them to be doing that without using it as a threat... just... you know... do it 'cause they heard the hero was there.
There ARE actual stakes to be had when villains and heroes "don't hold back".
Imagine the villain is wiping out every single town he hears your heroes have been to. Well, now, you gotta keep a very low profile. Gotta be careful who knows who you are. Gotta be careful nobody talks about you to anyone. The citizenry might also view you as a threat since just showing up in town means they all die. THERE ARE STAKES HERE.
I ain't a fan of "let me take forever to use my best stuff, when I'm already almost dead".
Do you know when "The Ultimate Attack" is interesting? Kung Fu Panda. "That's the Wuxi Finger Hold!" "Oh, you know this hold? (mirroring the words his master told him, with the same smirk)" "You're bluffing, Shifu didn't teach you that!" "You're right. (enemy is visibly relieved, but remains in the hold) I figured it out. (insane levels of panic set in on the enemy) Skidoosh. (attack executes).
That's how you do an "ultimate attack". Or... let's say... the 5 Point Exploding Heart Technique from Kill Bill.
There's a way to do it that is awesome and a way to do it that is lame. Most people opt for "lame".
5. Nobody in the world is doing anything to stop whatever the conflict is... except our intrepid heroes.
I don't know why this annoys me, but it does. I sort of like when other people are attempting to solve the problem as well as me. It breathes life into the world. Makes me feel like the NPC's have their own goals and reasons for existing. Other than, just, you know... information dumps for our band of 6 heroes.